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Old 20.06.2015, 17:41
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Geneva Marriage Registration and Visa Updates U.S. Spouse

Hi Fellow U.S. Expats (or hopeful expats)...

Since I'm in the midst of all this immigration jazz, I thought I'd update anyone who might find this info relevant re: current wait times and instructions for U.S. spouses who married in the U.S. who are seeking to move to Geneva.

1) Get like 8-10 copies of your marriage certificate from your City Hall. You are going to need them.

2) File that marriage registration paperwork with your U.S. local Swiss Embassy the day you get your marriage certificate! You can find out which one online. We filed mine through the San Francisco office. I know that our processor sat on ours for a couple of weeks before sending it to the local cantonal office. Thanks Ms. M.! Anyway, once it finally gets mailed, it takes a trip to Geneva, ours was processed at Petit-Lancy Cantonal Office, which quite honestly is a bit of a shit-show, and closes most days at 1:30pm, and they only take phone calls in the afternoon, so don't you bother trying to call in the morning, no Siree! You can go there and wait in line for about an hour to ask a question. I'd much rather call instead! All told, it took 2 months exactly from our wedding day to get the marriage entered in the computer at the local cantonal office.

3) Then, get the instructions from your assigned embassy's Visa Desk, and assemble your D Visa (Family Reunification) packet. You can do this BEFORE your marriage is recognized in Switzerland, and I suggest you do. You will need a bunch of stuff including 2 copies of your marriage certificate, (and if it has already been registered successfully in Switzerland, then also 2 notarized copies of your "family thingy Form" - not the official name - from the Cantonal Office), 2 copies each of yours and your husband's passports, 4 passport photos, and some letters from your husband (or wife) with your intended plans (where you are going to live, and what you plan to do etc.) We also submitted his employment contract and paycheck records to prove I'm not going to be left on the streets to fend for myself. Righty then...send it with a tracking number to the embassy assigned to you. Since I moved states during this process my embassy changed to the NY office but that is not really relevant here... At some point they will ask for your passport to be mailed to them so that they can insert the visa pages, so keep that in mind. Personally, I wouldn't want to be abroad when that happens. You send that to them with a return envelope with a tracking number so they can get it back to you and you can follow the progress... Also, fair warning they COULD ask to interview you at the embassy. I've only just sent my packet so I'll update you on the outcome and wait time etc. later... Oh, and I am also planning to get my FBI background check ASAP in case it is needed! Current processing times for those say up to 17 wks!

4) Regarding the Schengen Visa stuff, so you probably know by now you have 90 days of total visit time (not continuous - total days added together) within a 6 month time period. I did find out that they take the current day and go backwards to tally this. There is a calculator online that will add all the days of your multiple trips to total your time, and you can play around with it to find out when you have to get the heck out of Europe before they stamp your passport with a BAD GIRL stamp and don't let you back in the country. You DON'T want that to happen for sure. Here's that puppy:
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs...ulator_en.html

5) Do take my advice and realize the following are myths: 1) It does not take 2 wks to process your marriage registration if you married in the U.S. - it takes 2 months! 2) Since it will take at least 6-10 wks (2.5 months most likely) not counting any Visa or marriage registration hiccups, or prior trips you made to the EU/Shengen area in the last 6 months, you will not likely be able to go live with your spouse after you get married, visit him sure, set up house...but not stay. 3) The local Cantonal Offices in Geneva are not very helpful, and they are backed up, and have awful hours...they won't process your Visa paperwork, and they will tell you to get yourself back to the U.S. and go through the U.S. embassy channels if you ask. We were hopeful they would do it and thus expedite the process because your Visa packet will be sent to them anyway, and they won't.

6) This is just one girl's experience and it is specific to Geneva. I'm sure there are many more varied experiences from veterans on here, but I would have found this useful, I and hope you do too. The experiences from other cantons aren't really all that relevant to Geneva. Cheers and Bonne Chance!

7) If any recent veterans of this process in Geneva have additional advice/tips, or info on what's next please do share!
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Old 04.09.2015, 17:03
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Re: Geneva Marriage Registration and Visa Updates U.S. Spouse

It took 8 weeks start to finish to get the D Visa. They did ask for extra paperwork including my husband's proof of income with his past 3 months pay stubs, despite already having a copy of his work contract. Additionally, they wanted to see a housing rental contract and the final transcription of the marriage by the Canton (despite having sent the marriage certificate and letter of marriage registration by the OCPM - our final transcription was not ready yet when I first applied). So, you will definitely want to send this along with your application packet if you have it. In addition, though I did not list having any dependents, they wanted to be told explicitly that I had no children, so keep that in mind since you may want to make a note on your application packet.

Also, as part of the approval process I was given a biometric appointment, about 1.5 months from after the Visa was granted (they are only for 3 months initially which was a surprise to me - apparently your right to stay longer comes with the resident card...?), and they sent me the resident card application to complete and bring with me to the appointment, and I was of course advised of the CHF 237.- fee.

I had a question as to whether I had to present within 14 days of arrival to the OCPM, but was told upon clarification, no the appointment given is the time to present, so no need to come sooner. They also don't tell you which permit will be given until after you submit your packet and biometric screening - that was confusing also.

Anyway, hope all this is helpful to someone else out there...
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Old 04.09.2015, 17:24
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Re: Geneva Marriage Registration and Visa Updates U.S. Spouse

A Type D visa only allows you to enter Switzerland long term legally. It's the permit that grants you residency. If you didn't get a permit, the visa would not have been issued, pure and simple. It's also why the visa has to be applied for outside of Switzerland - no good granting you an entry visa otherwise is it? That's not to say that some cantons won't process an application once you're here, but it's an exception rather than a rule.

The 14 days applies to those who arrive without having a permit granted yet. Yours was already okay'd so the rule doesn't apply. An EU national who's coming here to take up a job for example must register as being resident within 14 days of arrival and before they start working here.
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Old 04.09.2015, 17:32
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Re: Geneva Marriage Registration and Visa Updates U.S. Spouse

Yes thanks. It was confusing since when they issued the Visa in New York, they also paper clipped inside my passport a florescent pink page that said that I must go to the OCPM within 14 days. Though, apparently, I do not (thankfully one trip is enough!).

Still, I think it is ridiculous to not accept applications in the country when one is here on a Schengen Visa, of course I would have had to return if my Schengen Visa would expire before the D Visa was granted...understandable... However, the paperwork landed on a desk in the exact same office where I first tried to submit it - though with much more delay by routing it through the U.S. Of course, I don't know what processing is done back in the home countries behind the scenes before it comes to Switzerland...but still I get the impression, it is just there for assembly and mailing off. Seems rather inefficient to me.
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Old 12.10.2015, 17:12
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Re: Geneva Marriage Registration and Visa Updates U.S. Spouse

I received a B permit within 1 week from the date of my appointment with OCPM. It is renewable one year later on the first of the month it was granted. If any U.S. citizens have questions about this process in Geneva, feel free to holler!
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